Thirty-five years ago, Patrick Ewing brought the Georgetown men’s basketball team onto a national stage by leading the Jesuit school to its first of three national championship game appearances in four years with his play at center. Now he’ll try to bring the Hoyas back to that level from the sidelines.
Georgetown announced on Monday that it has hired the former NBA great as its new head coach, replacing the recently fired John Thompson III. While the Hoyas will not have a John Thompson as their coach for just the second time in the past 45 years, the school did hire within the basketball family that John Thompson Jr. created, as Ewing played four years for the elder Thompson from 1982 to 1985.
“My four years at Georgetown were the best of my life,” Patrick Ewing said in a news release on the school’s athletic website. He went on to say how Georgetown is still his home and how great an honor it is for him to become his alma mater’s next head coach. He said that he had been working hard to become a head coach for quite a few years and he can not wait to return to the Hilltop.
Ewing has never been a head coach at any level of basketball, but has spent the past 15 years as an assistant coach with four different NBA teams, including the Washington Wizards, with whom the Hoyas share the Verizon Center. He has been the associate coach for the Charlotte Hornets since 2013 and was widely expected to eventually become a head coach in the NBA.
Instead, it was Patrick Ewing’s alma mater that will finally give him a chance to lead his own team. As a player, Ewing’s teams were dominant, reaching the national championship game in 1982 and 1985 and winning the title in 1984 by defeating Houston for the Hoyas’ only national championship. Since Ewing graduated, Georgetown has reached the Final Four just once, which came in 2007.
Ewing takes over a Georgetown program that has struggled badly in the new Big East, finishing with losing records in each of the past two seasons and failing to make the NCAA tournament in three of the four seasons since the Big East splintered off from what is now the American Athletic Conference. Under John Thompson III, the Hoyas developed a reputation as a good regular season team, but could not get the job done in the postseason, regularly falling to double-digit seeds. Following the Final Four run, the Hoyas went just 3-6 in the NCAA tournament under Thompson despite never being lower than a No. 6 seed.
Whether Patrick Ewing can reverse that trend will depend on how well he adjusts to the recruiting trail. Having spent the past 32 years in the NBA, Ewing is one of the most respected basketball minds in the professional game, but has no experience with recruiting. Ewing’s hire makes him the second star from the Big East’s glory days to return to his alma mater as a coach, following Chris Mullin, who has spent the past two years attempting to rebuild St. John’s.
Readers, what are your thoughts on Georgetown hiring Ewing? Will he be able to adjust to the college game, or does his knowledge and experience make more sense at the NBA level? What do you expect from Georgetown in 2017? Sound off in the comments below and like and share this story!
Commentary by Dan Angell